The Vision, Part 3

The Birth of a Vision

Where does a vision from God come from?  Remember the definition of “vision” as it relates to our study:

It is a clear mental image of God’s preferred future imparted by the Holy Spirit to God’s chosen servants and is based upon an accurate understanding of God, one’s self and calling, and the circumstances.

God is never without a plan or without a man.

1 Samuel 3:1-4
Now the boy Samuel ministered to the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation.  And it came to pass at that time, while Eli was lying down in his place, and when his eyes had begun to grow so dim that he could not see, and before the lamp of God went out in the tabernacle of the Lord where the ark of God was, and while Samuel was lying down, that the Lord called Samuel. And he answered, “Here I am!”

The Lord has shown me that this region has gone through a dry and parched season.  Just as in Samuel’s day, there is no widespread revelation of God’s Word.  Before the lamp of God went out, God spoke to Samuel and gave birth to a vision.

Vision Comes From Ministering To The Lord
We go into our time with God with ideas and plans born of our own ingenuity and we come out of His presence renewed with the plans and purposes of God in our hearts.  This doesn’t normally happen in a single occurrence, but through many sessions of being in His presence.

Psalm 37:4
Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

At first glance, this verse appears to be telling us that if we delight ourselves in the Lord that He will give us what we want.  But look closer.  God is saying that if you delight yourself in Me, I will give you, or place within you, the desires of your heart.  In other words, through time spent with God, our desires change from our own to His.  Our agenda gets swept away and replaced with the purposes and vision of God.

A vision is born when you are divinely instructed by God.

Hebrews 8:5
As Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.”

God instructed Moses to make all things according to the pattern (e.g., the blueprint) shown to him by God.  There is no room for the flesh in the building of God’s house.  Jesus said that which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit (John 3:6).  God will not put His Spirit upon that which has not been born of Him.

The Word Of The Lord Was Rare
Amos 8:11 tells us about a famine of the Word of the Lord in the last days.  God’s answer to this epidemic is to raise up Word churches, where those who are hungry for the Word of God can come and be fed.  Understand that God expects us to study the Word on our own, but that does not take the place of the prophetic Word of God that should be coming forth to the congregation.  God uses the latter to confirm, encourage, exhort, correct and bring guidance to the body.

The King James Version of 1 Samuel 3:1 says that there was “no open vision.”  There will never be clear vision from God where the Word of God is dried up.  Everything begins and ends with the Word.  When the Word of the Lord is rare, the vision of God is absent and just as Judges 21:25 says, everyone does what is right in their own eyes.

Judges 21:25
In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

When Christians and Churches begin to do what is right in their own eyes, the presence of God departs.

Before The Lamp Of God Went Out
God raises up ministries to feed His people the Word of God – those who are truly hungry and crying out to Him.  Before the lamp of God goes out, there is someone, somewhere, who is hearing the voice and call of God and responding with “Here I am” and the vision of God is born.

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The Vision, Part 2

For The Vision Is Yet For An Appointed Time

“For the vision is yet for an appointed time.”

Consider the wisdom of Solomon.  He understood, by the Holy Spirit, that there was a time and season for every purpose of God.

Ecclesiastes 3
1 To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
2 … A time to plant,
    And a time to pluck what is planted;
3 … A time to break down,
    And a time to build up;
9 What profit has the worker from that in which he labors?
10 I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied.
11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.

God’s time is not always our time.  Consider the following men of God who waited on their calling:

  • Abraham:  Father of many nations
  • Jacob: Israel
  • Joseph: Prime Minister of Egypt
  • Moses: Deliverer of Egypt
  • David: King

It’s imperative to be where God wants you to be at the right time.  There are lessons that He teaches us along the way to prepare us for the “appointed time.”

Consider these great words from the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah:

Isaiah 46:10
Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things that are not yet done,
Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
And I will do all My pleasure,’

Jeremiah 29:11 (KJV)
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

God calls the end from the beginning in order to give us an expected end.  Though there may be things we don’t understand along the way, God is in control.  We see through a glass darkly in this present time (1 Corinthians 13:12), but God is working all things together for good (Romans 8:28).

Be sure to take advantage of the time at His feet that God permits you.  It’s entirely possible that you will never have the same opportunity again.  When I was first saved and called to ministry, God called me to an extended period of training in the school of the Holy Spirit.  For 4 years, I spent a minimum of 5 hours a day studying the Word of God and another 3+ hours in prayer.  Every day.  I also fasted for at least 10 days every month – many times going on extended fasts of 10-14 days.  In those times, God revealed Himself to me in a way that wouldn’t have been possible any other way.  He gave me an open heaven.  At the end of those 4 years, God sent me to Bible College at Lester Sumrall’s ministry.  I eventually earned my Master’s degree in Theology, but myt real education came at the feet of Jesus.

If you find yourself in a holding pattern, choose to wait upon the Lord.  Spend time with God.  Allow Him to reveal His face to you.

But At The End It Will Speak, And It Will Not Lie

God told Habakkuk that at the end, or the fulfillment, it would speak, meaning that it would be understood why everything had to happen the way it did.

God gives us grace to get to the place and finish the race!

God chooses the tools and the methods that He uses to develop us for the vision that He has ordained for our lives.  Early in my calling with God, I wanted to plant a church in my hometown and I was meeting with frustration.  I sat alone in my prayer time with God and He spoke to me: “you have many things to suffer and endure, but I will tell you when the time is right.”  It was a tough pill to swallow, but God was faithful.  At the end, I understood why God did what He did.  It is so important to not get ahead of God.

Though It Tarries Wait For It

God knew that Habakkuk’s schedule and His schedule were not the same, and told him, “Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come.”  2 Peter 3:8 says, One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

God’s vision comes to pass in stages and seasons.  Jesus said, For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head.

There are things that God spoke to me 25 years ago about my ministry that are still to be fulfilled – major things.  But God’s timing is perfect!

School of the Word: The Gifts of the Holy Spirit

The first class in The School of the Word will be The Gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Classes begin on Thursday, June 14th and will run every Thursday night from 7 to 8.  We will be using the study guide written by Dr. Lester Sumrall.  Dr. Sumrall was a companion of Smith Wigglesworth near the end of Smith’s life.  He was also the traveling companion of Howard Carter.  Brother Carter received the revelation from God regarding the nine gifts of the Spirit that is still widely held to by virtually all full gospel churches today.  I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Sumrall teach out of this study guide in person over 20 years ago.  I expect God to use this class to increase the manifestation of the Spirit in our services and in your personal life.  The cost of the study guide is $10.  If you want to come but can’t afford the material just let me know and one will be given to you.

Gifts of the Holy Spirit - Study Guide

The Vision, Part 1

Proverbs 29:18: Where there is no vision, the people perish

Without a clearly defined vision, God’s people will perish.  The Hebrew word for “perish” is para (paw-rah) and it means, “to cast off restraints, become unruly, be slack.”

Vision is foresight with insight based on hindsight.    It is a clear mental image of God’s preferred future imparted by the Holy Spirit to God’s chosen servants and is based upon an accurate understanding of God, one’s self and calling, and the circumstances.

It is important to understand that while everyone should have a vision, not everyone is called to be a visionary.

Psalm 103:7: He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel.

  1. Moses was called to a people
  2. Aaron was called to a man (Moses)

When Moses was on the mount with God, the people pushed Aaron into Moses’ role and he failed miserably.  The result was a golden calf.  It is critical to abide in the function and calling that God has for your life.  Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called (1 Corinthians 7:20).

It is important to get under a visionary pastor and serve.  This is true especially if you have ministry calling on your own life.  Listen to these words of Jesus:  And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own? (Luke 16:12).  Early in my calling, I found every opportunity to serve in the local church.  Not to be seen of men for earthly reward, but as unto the Lord.  I took the offering, cleaned the church, operated the television camera, worked in the prayer line, visited the sick, etc.  All along, I had a vision of ministry that was burning in my heart.  But first, I had to be faithful over that which was another man’s.

The vision that you follow cannot be man-made.  The word of God tells us that unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it (Psalm 127:1).  The vision must be from God or it will fail.  The Apostle Paul told King Agrippa: “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision” (Acts 26:19).

Then the Lord answered me and said:

Write the vision
And make it plain on tablets,
That he may run who reads it.
For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come,
It will not tarry.

Habakkuk 2:2-3

There is, of course, a literal fulfillment of the prophetic words spoken in Habakkuk chapter 2; however, there is also a spiritual application.  This passage reveals some key principles related to vision.

Write the Vision

First off, the Lord says to “write the vision.”  Writing something down attaches an importance and definiteness to something.  Moving forward off of the top of your head, without a plan, is always going to produce inferior results.  Writing things down ensures that we don’t forget the details of what God has placed on our heart.

The importance of writing down goals can be seen in a study done several years ago.  In 1979, interviewers asked new graduates from the Harvard’s MBA Program and found that:

  • 84% had no specific goals at all
  • 13% had goals but they were not committed to paper
  • 3% had clear, written goals and plans to accomplish them

In 1989, the interviewers again interviewed the graduates of that class.  You can guess the results:

  • The 13% of the class who had goals were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84 percent who had no goals at all.
  • Even more staggering – the three percent who had clear, written goals were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97 percent put together.

Make it Plain

God chose the Koine Greek language to present the New Testament, instead of classical Greek.  Koine was the language of the people and was easy to understand.  During the dark ages of the church, all Bibles were translated into Latin and only the priests were able to understand it.  The people were dependent on the priest to know what God’s Word said.  This changed after the reformation.  When you consider these two points together, it is easy to see that God wants to communicate clearly and plainly, but man wants to complicate.

  • God’s Communication Style: Clear and Plain
  • Man’s Communication Style: Complicated

It does no good to lay out the vision if no one understands it!

That He May Run Who Reads It

The purpose for the vision is that those who are called to the ministry may read it and run with it.  This will not be a church where the pastor does all of the ministry.  God has placed members into the body with gifts and talents.  Burying your talents in the ground will not be acceptable practice in this church.

We will keep the vision in front of us so that we keep our focus.  The enemy is the master of distractions.  He would have us busy doing good things instead of God things.  We cannot do enough good to change the world, but if we obey God in what He has called us to do, we can effect change in our world.

Thou Art Loosed!

Many today are bound with problems that they are unable to overcome by themselves.  Even Christians are in bondage to the works of the devil.  Through the blood of the cross, these bondages have already been broken – on Heaven’s end.  They have been bound in Heaven.  Yet so many, in ignorance, allow the devil to exercise control over their lives.  Outward religious performance will not move the devil out of your life.  Only true spiritual authority will cause him to flee.

On a certain day in the synagogue, Jesus ministered to the woman from the Abrahamic Covenant (the pre-side of Calvary).  Jesus was operating in the prophetic fulfillment of the cross.

Matthew 8:16-17 says:

He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.

Fulfillment, in its culmination, came at the cross.  But Jesus also ministered on the promissory note of prophecy.  Jesus said to that woman in Luke 13:12: “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity!” The words, “are loosed” are in the perfect tense.  It is completed action in past time, with present continual results.  This is what we must understand about our authority in Christ; it is not something God is going to do; it is something He has done!  Having spoken this, Jesus laid hands on the woman and immediately she was made straight (v 13).  The religious leaders of that day didn’t like that one bit. They were filled with indignation (v 14). Religion does not teach one much about their dominion and authority in Christ.  If you are involved in a “cessation church” (those who believe that  the  power  of God  has ceased from manifestation), then get out and wash your hands of it! Don’t have a form of godliness while denying the power thereof.  The Bible says to turn away from them (II Tim. 3:5).

Jesus rebuked them and called them hypocrites (v 15). Hypocrites will tell you that sickness is the will of God to teach a lesson and then they will spend all their money at the doctor and the drug store trying to get out of “God’s will.” If sickness is the will of God, then why not pray for a double portion? Even common sense tells us this is ridiculous.

Some people (ignorant ones) say, “If it’s God’s will to heal everybody, then why don’t you go down to the hospital and clean the beds out?”  That’s poor theology!  You would have to apply that to salvation as well by saying, “If it’s God’s will to save everyone, then why don’t you go down to the tavern and clean off the bar stools.”  This is faulty on both counts because God will not override people’s will. Through ignorance or unbelief some people have set their will against healing.

Jesus said:

So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?  (Luke 13:16)

It was her legal redemptive right to be free.  It is your legal redemptive right to be free, and set others free.  Satan’s authority over your life has been legally broken by the court of Heaven.   Your defense attorney and advocate, Jesus, has taken His own blood into the Holy of Holies and satisfied Heaven’s righteous demands.

You are God’s agent of deliverance in this sin-torn world.  Satan fears your potential in Christ. God has given you the authority to bind the devil and loose the power of God! Rise up and be who God wants you to be and take authority over your adversary, the devil. A stronger than he has come upon him and overtaken him – Jesus! Satan has been stripped of all his armor. Jesus has taken the spoils and divided them to His people.  Dominion is ours! (See Luke 11:22.)

The Apostle Paul, part 5 of 5

The Writings of an Apostle

Paul wrote a total of thirteen epistles, fourteen if you count Hebrews (no author named). These epistles were later canonized as being divinely inspired as Holy Scripture.  Paul wrote to the newly founded churches across Greece and Asia Minor, as well as Rome.  There were many issues in the early Church that needed addressed.  As an apostle, Paul wrote as a spiritual father, caring for his children.

Winds of doctrine were blowing through these churches.  False teachers were on the prowl, seeking to devour these new converts. Paul’s writings were passed from church to church as a compass to keep them on the right track.

Today, we are blessed to have the writings of the greatest apostle to ever live. The Pauline revelation is the heart of the New Testament.  He brought the deep truths of God out in an understandable way.  Paul was a master of the Greek language.  He could have written in classical Greek, but instead chose Koine Greek, the language of the people. Though easy to understand, Paul’s writings were weighty and hard to discern without the Holy Spirit’s help. Listen to Peter’s words concerning Paul’s writings:

2 Peter 3:15-16
And consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.

Though apostles today cannot write divinely inspired Scripture, it is still vital for an apostle to weld the power of the pen.  His teachings and testimony should be recorded for the continuing blessing of generations to come.

The Hardships of an Apostle

The book of 2 Corinthians offers us a unique peer into the personal life and hardships of the apostle Paul. It was extremely difficult for the apostle to the Gentiles.  But God was always faithful to deliver him in times of trouble. Let him who thinks apostleship is an easy road, one to be desired, consider the following from just one of Paul’s epistles, 2 Corinthians:

For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. (2 Corinthians 1:8)

We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)

In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love (2 Corinthians 6:5-6)

For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. (2 Corinthians 7:5)

Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often.  From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.  Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep;  in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;  in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness—  besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.  (2 Corinthians 11:23-28)

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. (2 Corinthians 12:7)

Paul’s hardships served only to make him greater.  Some say that he had to suffer because he had no faith. This is ridiculous thinking. Paul did not operate in the “cadillac faith” that some modern prosperity preachers teach.  Paul was a living example of faith in everything he did.  Paul was the greatest apostle of all because he made himself the least. The following passage portrays the heart of Paul throughout his life, ministry, and death as a martyr:

Phillipians 3:7-14
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.  Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;  that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.  Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.  Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.